Spring is a great time of the year to do some dusting off at home and give those windows a clean and curtains a wash. The same applies to our body. Periodic detoxification will engage all major organs in our body's detoxification system to improve our health and prevent disease.
Give your intestines, liver, kidneys, skin, gallbladder, lungs and lymphatics a scrub!
Toxic substances that accumulate throughout the body can weaken and congest our organs and systems of elimination. These toxic substances come from a number of sources such as the environment, the food we eat, the beauty products we put on our skin and of course the pesticide residue on the food we eat. Pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metals in vaccines, food additives like chemical flavours and preservatives, the chemicals on the clothes we wear, our bedding and carpets, the paint on the wall... the list goes on and on.
But I want to spare you with the full list, instead I want to give you an easy and cheap (FREE!) way to do a detox programme this spring.
All you need to do is gather a handful of herbs (you might call them weeds) from your garden, community garden or an untouched area in your local park (good areas are around streams, watch out for signs of spray damage (wilting and yellowing) and pick from areas where dog can’t get to) and make yourself a tonic.
Here my top 5 detox herbs
1. Stinging Nettle (Urtica urens)
Stinging nettle is our number one medicinal and culinary herb. It is so important to us that it is embedded in our KoruKai logo. Stinging nettle restores digestion, it is a blood cleanser and builder, boosts energy levels and is diuretic, which means it reduces excess water in the body. Nettle promotes liver and kidney health. With its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties it is a great treatment for allergies like hay fever, urinary tract infections and liver imbalances.
3. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion stimulates digestion and acts as a tonic in the body, which means that it increases the available energy making it an excellent body, liver and kidney tonic. It helps our body to produce bile and is an effective diuretic for the kidneys.
4. Speedwell (Veronica persica)
Speedwell has remarkable medicinal powers out of proportion to its size. It is a blood purifier, removes excess mucus, soothes internal tissues, treats coughs and improves asthma. The flowers are so pretty and we should not overlook it in our garden.
5. Mallow (Malva arborea)
There are 20 edible species of mallow. Malva is Greek meaning soft or soothing. We have a few species on the farm and the tree mallow is spreading throughout our food forest at the moment. Mallow has large amounts of mucilage, which is clearing, lubricating, cleansing, soothing and removing toxins from the body. It is soothing for internal mucous membranes (intestinal tract, throat, bladder) and used for diarrhea, bladder infections and bronchitis.
All of the above herbs, except stinging nettle, can be used in a daily salad mixed with some spinach and lettuce leaves. Topped with a light dressing with some salt, olive oil, natural yoghurt or kefir and a splash of apple cider vinegar makes for a great light lunch.
Harvest stinging nettle with gardening gloves and wilt the leaves by pouring boiling water over it and soaking it for 5 minutes. Then the leaves can be added to smoothies, stir-fried vegetables, quiches and frittata. Read more about nettle here.
Recipe: SPRING DETOX TONIC
For this tonic we use stinging nettle, cleavers and mallow. If available you can of course add fresh dandelion leaves and speedwell to the mix. Make as much as you need on the weekend and store in the fridge so you have access to this tonic throughout a busy working week.
- 1-3 stalks of stinging nettle
- handful of cleavers (stalk and all)
- 5-10 mallow leaves
- unchlorinated spring water
Harvest the stinging nettle, cleavers and mallow leaves in the afternoon on a sunny day and chop them finely with a knife. When chopping the stinging nettle wear gardening gloves! Then add them to a glass or stainless steel bowl and cover them with cold, unchlorinated tap water. If your tap water is chlorinated, get a filter or boil the water for 5 minutes and let it cool down before using.
Let this mixture stand at room temperature overnight.
The next day strain the liquid though a sieve and drink a cup before breakfast. Store the remaining liquid in the fridge and use for up to 5 days.
You might also consider giving your digestive system a rest. Our body is generally super busy with digesting food and little rest is given to allow for normal detox processes in the body. Having an early and light dinner before bed and replacing breakfast with the above detox tonic can work wonders on an overloaded system. With a light dinner at 6pm, no snacks in the evening, a detox tonic for breakfast and then a light snack at 10am would allow your digestive system 16 hours of rest. Lunch filled with mainly fresh, seasonal and organic vegetables could form the main meal and should be enjoyed in a relaxed manner without rush during this detox period.
For more inspiration and information on fasting and detoxing we recommend Cherie Calbom’s book “Juicing, Fasting and Detoxing for Life” (2014)
I hope you found some of this information useful. If you are unsure about plant identification, consider visiting a plant ID course in your area. We run regular courses on wild edibles on our farm on Banks Peninsula. Please see here.
About Cornelia Holten
Cornelia is an herbalist and slow food educator with a passion for simple living, DIY, herbs and self-sufficiency. A certificate in Organic Horticulture, the Soil Food Web, an Apprenticeship in Herbal Medicine and living on a farm in Pigeon Bay equip her with a lot of knowledge and experience with growing food and living a healthy life.
She is teaching workshops on sustainable food systems, whole foods, fermentation, primal diets and organic gardening. A thirst for knowledge and a passion for new scientific studies keep her well informed on those topics.